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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
Ministers consider UK smoking ban
Ashtray in pub
Any ban is likely to arouse passion on both sides
Some form of ban on smoking in public places could be introduced in England and Wales, a minister has indicated.

With the Irish ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants hailed as a success, there has been a pressure for Westminster to follow suit.

Public health minister Melanie Johnson said a large consultation exercise found significant support.

But she would not reveal the scale of ban being considered, saying "taking some form of action" was on the cards.

Pro-smoking choice groups and many ordinary drinkers feel a ban would be unfair and excessive and favour some form of voluntary measure. Drinks industry representatives are also worried that a complete ban could have a major impact on sales.

Ms Johnson speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight programme, said of the consultation exercise: "The findings show there is a lot of support towards banning smoking in public places.

"But we know from polling that in fact there is a different result from looking at different forms of public place. So, for example, there is a much stronger support for banning smoking in restaurants than there is in pubs."

The results of the four-month consultation exercise on a range of public health issues will form the basis of a white paper in the autumn.

The minister added: "What we have also consulted on in the Labour Party through the Big Conversation was actually local bans, we have also looked at those.

"We will certainly be looking at the ways in which we address smoking in public places and taking some form of action as a result of the White Paper."

Smoking ban 'hits Guinness sales'
02 Sep 04  |  Northern Ireland
Pub smoking ban 'may cost jobs'
29 Aug 04  |  Scotland
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17 Aug 04  |  West Midlands

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